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Review: Prophecy Girl by Cecily White

Friday, May 31, 2013

Prophecy Girl

(Angel Academy #1)
by Cecily White

Genre: YA Paranormal
Paperback: 368 Pages
Publication: April 2, 2013 by Entangled Teen


Amelie Bennett. . . . Ending the world, one prophecy at a time.

I was born to slay Crossworld demons.
Big black flappy ones, little green squirmy ones. Unfortunately, the only thing getting slain these days is my social life. With my high school under attack, combat classes intensifying, and Academy instructors dropping right and left, I can barely get my homework done, let alone score a bondmate before prom.
Then he shows up.
Jackson Smith-Hailey. Unspeakably hot, hopelessly unattainable, and dangerous in all the right ways. Sure, he’s my trainer. And okay, maybe he hates me. Doesn’t mean I’ll ignore the wicked Guardian chemistry between us. It’s crazy! Every time I’m with him, my powers explode. Awesome, right?
Now my teachers think I’m the murderous Graymason destined to bring down our whole race of angelbloods. Everyone in New Orleans is hunting me. The people I trusted want me dead. Jack and I have five days to solve the murders, prevent a vampire uprising, and thwart the pesky prophecy foretelling his death by my hand. Shouldn’t be too difficult.

Getting it done without falling in love. . . that might take a miracle.

◆ A copy was provided by Entangled Publishing for review ◆

Amelie reminds me of Rose from Vampire Academy, only I liked Rose more. Amelie is stubborn and headstrong, and she's not quite human. She's a troublemaker, much like Rose is. Only, I didn't find her as real and believable as Rose. It may be in the way that she's presented or how her personality is so out of there. I never felt as though I really got to know her. At the same time, she has something about her that can help her relate to teenage readers. Despite being a Guardian, she's a regular high school girl. She doesn't let any of this Crossworld business shape her personality or force her to mature too soon.

I didn't like the romance in this novel. Amelie acts overly familiar with Jake. It would have been all right with me given her character, but she pushes Jake far past his comfort zone to the point where he has to put the equivalent of a restraining order on her. It doesn't seem like a good way to develop a romantic interest, and yet it happens. Out of nowhere, and the paranormal reason for their chemistry isn't working for me. It still doesn't explain how a love from years ago can still be there when they've had so many life experiences since they last met and aren't the same people they were back then. I also don't like what Jake sentences Amelie to at the end of the novel because of his selfish desire to keep her (and, yet, he can't keep her because of the circumstances).

The strong part of this novel is the dialogue. It's real and often filled with witty banter. My only problem was that I didn't understand a lot of the movie references. I never was much of a movie buff, but that's me. I also liked Amelie's friend well enough, though they don't show up enough for me to be able to glean much of their personalities. My favorite character is most definitely Luc. He shows up later in the novel, but he's also the one who I had more time to get to know. I love his eccentric personality.

Prophecy Girl doesn't particularly stand out to me in the wave of paranormal romance books out there. Still, it is a fairly solid read for the most part. The plot isn't anything particularly original or action-packed, but it has steady pacing. I recommend this for those who enjoy a down-to-earth paranormal romance read.

  1. Prophecy Girl
  2. TBA
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Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Elite

(The Selection #2)
by Kiera Cass

Genre: Alternate History, Dystopian
Hardback: 323 Pages
Publication: April 23, 2013 by Harper Teen


Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

◆ A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review ◆

I was looking forward to reading this book because I loved The Selection so much. However, it fell flat for me and was not at all what I was expecting for the second book in a planned trilogy.

Mysteries were introduced in The Selection with the rebel groups and political intrigue of life at the palace. There was much potential for The Elite to explore the world and set up the plot of the "final battle." Instead, it focuses on America's love life and how torn she is between Maxon and Aspen. I know that she entered the Selection following a bad breakup with Aspen, and it's understandable that her heart is in turmoil. However, it wasn't what I wanted to see in a dystopian. And, while she doesn't mean to play with their feelings, she ends up hurting both of them with her indecision, and watching her do this to them, to herself, made me lose some of the respect I'd built for her. She also nearly wrecks her chance of being with the one she truly loves because of her inability to open her heart and trust in what's happening between them.

I really didn't see much purpose in Aspen chasing America all the way to the Selection. (I was actually a bit creeped out... it's almost like a crazy ex-boyfriend stalker scenario. And he was a really big jerk about breaking up. Who is he to start talking about how great they were when he's the one who didn't have the confidence to make their relationship work?) What America says to him at the end, however, has me wondering if there is some greater role to his presence at the palace. Hopefully there is because I'd hate to see him serve the sole purpose of adding a spice of forbidden romance to the whole affair. I'm not a big fan of drama-filled love triangles, especially when it causes the plot to stagnate.

The world building was also sadly lacking in this novel, which was my biggest grief. For me, I expect the second book in a trilogy to thicken the plot and make preparations for the epic ending that's to come in the third book. While we do learn more about the history of the world in The Elite, it isn't much. There is still so much more being kept from us. I was also expecting to learn more about the rebel groups, but nothing much happens here other than a couple more incidents. I'm not sure how the rebel plotline can be wrapped up satisfactorily with only one more book left in the trilogy.

I do want to know how the Selection wraps up, so I'll be reading the third book. And who knows? While The Elite ended up being a letdown, maybe I'll end up loving The One as much as I did The Selection. After The Elite, however, I don't have as high expectations for the trilogy as I did before.

  1. The Selection
  2. The Elite
  3. The One
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Review: Dead River by Cyn Balog

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dead River

Genre: YA Mystery, Paranormal
Hardback: 242 Pages
Publication: April 9, 2013 by Delacorte BFYR


My friends and I are spending prom weekend at a remote wooded cabin on the Dead.

The Dead River.

I thought it was going to be just us.

I was wrong.

◆ A copy was provided by Random House for review ◆

Kiandra lies to her father in order to go rafting at the cabin by Dead River with her boyfriend Justin, her cousin Angela, and Hugo. Kiandra’s father has prohibits her from going near water since her mother waded into the river to end her life. As soon as Kiandra arrives at the cabin, she feels the call of the water pulling at her. Over the course of the trip, she uncovers things about her mother’s death and secrets from the past. She also finds out she is a Mistress of the Waters and has special powers when she is saved by Trey, a ghost who was killed in the 1930s. As Kiandra has more encounters with spirits, she learns that she knows nothing about her mother, and she starts to wonder about her own destiny. She also begins to discover who and what is most important in her life.

Kiandra doesn't know what she really wants and is self-denying. She hates nature and is scared of water. The only reason that she goes rafting is to make Justin happy. On the other hand, Justin and Angela have a lot in common. They both love nature, hiking and rafting. The love triangle between these three characters feels forced. On the other hand, Trey is so sweet and someone I feel is good for her. I would like to see more details about the love relationship between Kiandra and Trey. It feels like they jump from friendship to love.

Dead River is a unique supernatural story of destiny. It is slow to start, but it is filled with interesting twists and turns that engage the reader. Throughout the novel, each ghost’s life and death story resonates with each other. I like how author ties them all together.

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Review: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

Monday, May 27, 2013

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True

Genre: YA Contemporary, Humor, Romance
Paperback: 320 Pages
Publication: April 23, 2013 by Balzer & Bray


When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?

◆ A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review ◆

After having read Sarah Strohmeyer's Smart Girls Get What They Want, I knew that I was in for another fun, humor-filled read. And that's what I got.

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True is a cute, quirky read. Typically, I'm not fond of the high school drama scene, but this is the exception that made it fun to read. I enjoyed going behind the scenes of an amusement park, especially with all the drama and backstabbing going what is supposed to be Fairyland. I think it may be because it takes place in such an innocent, fairy-tale-like setting that I enjoyed it so much. It also helps that Zoe takes it all in stride as a part of life instead of burning with rage at the unfairness of it all. No, she sets out to not only make the best of her situation but to prove that she's capable, and that's what won me over.

Zoe has strong ideals. I especially love her Red-Riding-Hood scene with the little girl. It makes a great statement for girls and what they can do in life. Zoe is also a loyal friend and cousin. Even though the Dream & Do grant sets the summer interns against each other, she's out to make her cousin the winner, and she makes a solid group of friends. My favorite has to be Ian. He's such a character and makes a statement at the beginning of the novel with his talk of cannibal chickens. I understand why Zoe isn't fond of him at the beginning, it's hard to hold things against him. He has a great sense of humor even if he makes bad puns (and, hey, a guy can't be good at everything). I also love the Queen. As abominable as she is, she's such a delight once you know how to handle her, and her tantrums are funny when she's not yelling at you.

With its Fairyland summer-intern setting, it makes the perfect light read for summer, or something to read in between all the dystopians and paranormal romances floating around. I highly recommend it for the humor, cute romance, and wonderful cast of characters. And also for what Zoe gains out of her experience at Fairyland and the true meaning of what it means to be family, blood-related or not.

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Author Interview: J.R. Johansson

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Today, I'm delighted to be interviewing with J.R. Johansson, whose debut novel Insomnia, book one in The Night Walkers, comes out June 8th!

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?

Tell us about yourself and how you got into writing.
My degree is in Communications/Public Relations with my minor in Psychology...clearly not a combinations that screams: WRITE BOOKS! ;-) I never thought I'd like to write books. I never even enjoyed writing when I had to for my university courses. Basically, I went through a really rough time in my life, had an idea in my head, and started writing as a form of release. Then I never stopped. Believe me, I was just as surprised about it as everyone else I knew.

It's interesting, and wonderful, how once you started writing, you kept on doing so, all the way to the publication of your first novel. What inspired you to write about a person who enters other peoples' dreams at night?
I have bizarrely wonky dreams and I always have. I remember waking up one morning and thinking, "WOW! That was crazy! I wonder what other people would think if they saw the things I dream about." It kind of evolved from there.

I love how the craziest things can come to us in our dreams. It would be so interesting to visit other peoples' dreams. On your website, you mention that your minor in abnormal psychology inspired many of your characters. How has this background helped with writing your YA thriller Insomnia?
It helped because of the thriller aspect. Abnormal psychology classes were the best. One of my favorite TV shows is Criminal Minds. I love researching the mind and what situations/abnormalities can result in an average person turning into a sociopath. With Insomnia, this interest took a slightly different turn. Sleep deprivation is a scary thing, physically speaking, but it was so interesting to look into what it does to the brain. Without giving too much away, let's just say a brain without sleep can be a terrifying thing. *insert ominous music here* :-)

I like my sleep. I don't want to think about going a night without sleep, much less four years like Parker! Parker's a teenage boy whose unique abilities threaten to drive him crazy, and now he wonders if it's turning him into something dangerous when all he wants is a good night's sleep. How did you go about developing his character and balancing his vulnerabilities with the craziness he finds himself entangled in?
Great question! That was definitely a tough line to walk. His situation has so many physical repercussions that hold him back. He has tremors and looks terrible, half the people around him (his mom included) think he's doing drugs. On top of all that, he knows he's dying but can't tell anyone. It's a terrifying situation to be in. And that's before the "craziness" really gets going. At the heart of it all, he is a good guy. He wants to do the right thing. But when questions of morality and mortality get swirled up in his crazy mess of a life, the answers aren't so black and white. With all the shades of gray, how do you figure out what the "right" option is? It's a fascinating question that I loved exploring with this character.

Parker has a lot going on in his life. It really makes me appreciate my peaceful, not-so-eventful days of classes and organization activities. Do you plan on writing more YA thrillers, or will you branch out into other genres?
I have a gigantic folder with random ideas in it. Some have fantastical/supernatural elements, some are more contemporary, some even lean toward sci-fi. But the one constant between them all is the scary bits. I see myself going different directions in regards to the other parts, but I'm a YA thriller author, and I don't see that changing. Not for awhile anyway.

That's good to hear. We need more YA thrillers! If you could choose what you dreamed about, what would it be?
Ooh, I think I would probably dream the next scene of my WiP in full detail. It would make the drafting process a lot smoother. Then again...I have some scenes coming up that would REALLY make my dreams more like nightmares. I take it back...I'd dream my favorite happy scenes from my favorite books. With Ryan Gosling, Aaron Rodgers & Adam Levine prominently featured in each one. Mmm...yeah. That.

It would certainly make writing a lot easier (and yay for free dream "movies" starring hotties)! What question do you wish I asked you (and totally forgot to add)?
Hmm...I don't know. These are most excellent questions! Let's see -- I wish you'd asked who my favorite character is in Insomnia. It's a very hard question, but I think it's Finn. Everyone should read it to find out why. :)

What are you working on right now?
Two things: 1 - Finishing up INSOMNIA 2 : WHEN INSOMNIACS ATTACK (unofficial title) 2 - A new project that is what I call a YA Contemporary Psychological Thriller. It's very visual, and VERY scary. I'm loving it.

Sounds exciting! Thanks for interviewing.

About the Author

J.R. Johansson's Website | Facebook | Twitter
J.R. Johansson has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She currently lives with her two young sons, her husband, and her cat Cleo in a valley between majestic mountains and a beautiful lake where the sun shines nearly 300 days per year. When she's not writing, she loves reading, playing board games, and sitting in her hot tub. Her dream is that someday she'll find a way to do all three at the same time.

Author Interview: Christine Amsden

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Today, I am interviewing with Christine Amsden, author of Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective.

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
I think I was born a writer. I wrote my first short story when I was about 8 -- it involved Cabbage Patch Dolls going to Mars. I've always like to write, and it has always been about strange or unusual events (science fiction or fantasy).

I got "serious" about writing in 2003, when I attended a by-audition boot camp with Orson Scott Card. Before that, becoming an author was a dream. After that, it became a goal.

I love writing about characters more than anything else. Give me a person with a problem and I'll give you a wonderful story of overcoming adversity.

It's wonderful how the writing camp turned your dream into a goal and how you made it become a reality. What inspired you to blend urban fantasy and crime together in a novel?
This is a pretty typical mix. At least, from my own reading. I was into Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series for years before I thought of Cassie. There might have been some inspiration there, although I definitely went my own way with Cassie.

The great thing about mystery/crime is that it allows each of my books to have a beginning, middle, and end (the solution to the mystery), while the bigger story arc continues (Cassie's personal character journey).

Characters make a book for me. I love how the greater story gives plenty of room for Cassie's personal journey. Describe her story within ten words.
You can call me Cassie.

Many books center on paranormal characters in normal families. What drew you to writing about a normal girl in a paranormal family and how do you feel this is important in shaping Cassie's character?
The idea clicked into my head one day and felt absolutely right. You hit on the answer in your question, I think -- lots of paranormal stories focus on paranormal characters in normal families. Lots of paranormal stories focus on "the chosen one" or someone with incredibly strength. I didn't want to write a story that has been told a thousand times before.

It was a challenge! Cassie is almost defined by her lack of magic in a magical family at first. It hurts her self-worth, though she tries to put a brave face on it. (She uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism.) But Cassie is more than she realizes. (And I don't mean that she has a secret magical talent she's somehow repressed for 21 years. I'm proud of the fact that I gave her a problem and owned it.)

Fantasy is a lot of fun. We all like to daydream about what it would be like if we had this or that magical power. How we could save the world. Cassie finds ways to help people without any magic at all. She smart, knowledgeable, brave, and compassionate.

I love how Cassie is able to help people without magic even in a magic-prominent world. It's something we can all learn from. Are there perks to being a normal girl living in a paranormal world?
I'm not sure there are perks in this case. It's a bit like being born deaf in a hearing world. Or blind in a sighted world. The best I can say for it is that since Cassie can't rely on magic, she has to rely on other things -- like her wits.

It would be a serious handicap; at the same time, it must lend to innovation since Cassie has to find other ways to work around her lack of magic. Supposing you got the chance to visit Cassie's world, who would you ask to be your guide and which places would you visit?
Cassie herself would be a great guide. She's got a good heart, and is a great friend. And even though she doesn't have the magic, she's smart enough to steer me away from any real dangers. I'd love to see her parents' castle home, and visit with her friends at the diner. I'd like to meet Evan Blackwood face to face as well.

Oh, Evan. He would be a delight to meet. If you were to write a spinoff for Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective, who would it be about and why?
I've already done it! Well, I have a rough draft, anyway. Cassie has two good friends that stick with her throughout the series -- Madison and Kaitlin. They were supposed to be minor characters and in Cassie's story, they are. But they kept demanding subplots until finally, I realized that each one needs a story of her own. I've written a rough draft of Madison's story already. I'm not ready for Kaitlin yet. She's a bit of a mess, to be honest. She's had a rough life and I haven't figured out how to deal with all of it yet.

It is worth noting that there are 4 books in the Cassie Scot series -- all written and all coming out in the next year or so.

I'll be sure to keep an eye out for these stories! What are you working on right now?
I'm developing a new story and a new world about people who can walk through dreams. I've got a few chapters written, but it is still very early in the process, so I don't want to say too much about it. I'm also hoping to finish Madison's spin-off story sometime this year.

Your new story sounds like a delight. I can't wait to hear more about it. Thanks for interviewing!

About the Author

Webiste | Facebook | Twitter
Christine Amsden is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.

Shadow Chaser Tour: Review & Giveaway

Thursday, May 9, 2013
Today, as a part of the Shadow Chaser tour, I have for you my review of the book and a giveaway.

Shadow Chaser
by Jerel Law

Series: Son of Angels #3
3 Stars: A Good Read
Paperback: 240 Pages
Publication: May 7, 2013 by Thomas Nelson

Many months have passed since part angel siblings Jonah, Eliza, and Jeremiah Stone began their angelic training. As part angels, or "quarterlings," the siblings joined other children of nephilim to begin honing their special powers.

In this third installment in the Son of Angels series, Jonah's story comes to resemble a modern-day Job as he's faced with trials that affect his health, strength, relationships, and most-prized possessions. As he and the other quarterlings prepare for mid-term exams, their powers are tested once again in the most fierce battle against Abaddon's forces yet. Will Jonah's faith in Elohim continue to persevere as he fights Abaddon in his hardest battle yet?

Shadow Chaser is the story of Job. Job is a righteous man, and God has a plan for him. God has decided to let Satan test him as long as Satan doesn’t lay a finger on Job himself. But his family and household are all fair game.

Jonah Stone is a quarterling, a child who is descended from a human and an angel, and he has the gift of prophecy. Though, when he speaks prophetic word, he feels like he is going to throw up. He, his family, and the other quarterlings have already been through a lot of trials and battles in the test. However, the battle that Jonah has to face now will be the hardest one because Abbadon has singled him out. There is trial of fire to test the loyalty of his friends and the strength of his family. And at the end, they will suffer a great loss that will push all of them to the limit of their faith.

We all go through hard times and losses. This is a story of loss, heartbreak, and the faith to overcome. It is a story about how no matter how the enemy imposes illness and wants to make our lives miserable, God is always with us. Jerel Law finds a good way to explain faith to young readers through this novel without preaching.

A copy was provided by the publisher for review.

About the Author

Jerel's Website | Facebook | Twitter
Jerel Law is a gifted communicator and pastor with seventeen years of full-time ministry experience. He holds his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Tarheels!), and a master of divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Jerel began writing fiction as a way to encourage his children’s faith to come alive. He lives in North Carolina with his family. Spirit Fighter is his first novel.